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Is the Nexus 7 the D in your BYOD?

Cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth. The obnoxious Back-to-School signs with their patronizing chalkboards and apples are up. I hated those signs when I was a kid, and I hate them now. Come to think of it, I can't stand most of the imagery associated with my profession. After 15 years teaching, I've never used a chalkboard, and I've never had a student bring me an apple, and that's a good thing.
 When I was a kid, the silver lining to Back-to-School season was called a Lamborghini Trapper Keeper.
For some kids and parents today, Back-to-school shopping means shopping for a gadget that can help them organize their school work. Everyone is talking about the iPad, but at $199, The Nexus 7 is a compelling device for those in schools like ours that are encouraging students to Bring-Your-Own-Device. It's great, but it's not perfect.

Pros

  • Speed  This thing flys. It goes from Sleep to Web in less than 8 seconds. 
  • Size  The seven inch screen size is really great for browsing the web, reading a book, and checking email. I can type quickly on the keyboard in portrait mode with my thumbs, and I love that it anticipates my word, not only by the first few letters I'm typing, but also by studying the context of the previous words. 
  • Smoothness  Google calls it Project Butter, and it is the element in the new Jelly Bean Android OS that makes navigating pages and content smooth. It's the first Android product that seems almost as smooth as an iOS device. 
  • Battery life  Sorry, but the alliteration is over. After playing with this for a week, I am confident that this will get any heavy user through a full day of taking notes, researching the web, and reading books on a single charge. 
  • Cost  $199? Amazing. 

Cons

  • Lack of textbooks  Apple's iBooks textbooks are awesome. I don't know of any school actually adopting them, but I have a couple on my iPad, and they're great. If a school is adopting these textbooks, they're probably not a BYOD school. I have written a public appeal to Amazon and Google to step up their textbook offerings, but they don't seem to be listening. You can get the Kindle App on this device and you can by books in the Play store, but so far there aren't compelling textbooks. 
  • No rear facing camera  When I initially saw that there was no RFC on this thing, I thought, "Who would want to use a tablet as a camera?" The answer: Students. It may look silly to take photos or video with a tablet, but the experience is awesome for students. The iPad is a legitimate video production machine. Students can storyboard, shoot, edit, and share on a single iPad. Not on the Nexus 7.
  • Doesn't replace a desktop / notebook / netbook  For high school students that are writing papers, building websites, and creating other digital media, this is not going to cut it. All of my students need consistent access to a "real" computer. 

Conclusion

The Nexus 7 is a great BYOD for students who have access to a "real" computer for working on their digital portfolios. If you need one device that does it all for under $300, I still highly recommend a netbook running Ubermix.

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